Bear’s first cross-country schooling and other musings

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It’s been a long time coming, but I was finally able to get Bear out for his first cross-country schooling today!

His shoes were on, the footing and weather was perfect and we were off to Gordonsdale. I gave him a cc of Ace in case it was crazy when we got there, but I think everyone did their schoolings yesterday because it was very quiet.

He was mostly interested in eating grass when we got off the trailer and stood nicely for tacking up, which is a work in progress! Thankfully we had a buddy there, so we started off following her around and sniffing some jumps. He was a little spooked by them at first, but my trainer Lisa sat on a few of them and fed him grass and he got over that pretty quickly!

We followed our lead over some logs and trotted in to most of them and cantered away. He has a good natural balance and I think he’s learned a lot being turned out on a hillside, so it was easy to get up off his back and let him move up the hill and sit down a bit coming down the slopes.

We walked and trotted up a bank no problem and walked very confidently off a bank. When it came time for the water, we just walked by the edge a few times with our buddy, then followed her in. He was a little hesitant and first, but didn’t put up much of a fight. He had a drink and then we walked up and out over a small bank.

They didn’t have any small, appropriate ditches, so we ended on that note. I haven’t been cross-country schooling or galloping since Oh So’s last event in July, so it was fun to be out and about again.

I sort of knew Bear would have no problems with the jumps when I saw him galloping back and forth over our water-filled drainage ditch in his paddock a few weeks ago, so I was happy for a nice outing! It was also a relief to see that he enjoyed it and might just want to be an eventer like we’d hoped!

I’m sending in our first entry for a combined test next weekend and I’m a little nervous! It’s just a walk/trot test and 18 inch jumps, but the key will be keeping his focus while there’s a lot going on. Now to go practice our centerlines and halts!

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Yesterday I took Toppers and Rocky to Belmont, a historic home in Fredericksburg where my dad is executive director. They were hosting a beeping egg hunt for blind children for the third year and the director of educational activities asked if we could bring the minis. They’re pretty good with children, and with so much grass, they were happy to oblige!

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Some of the children were very excited to pet them and feel their clipped coats, while others were quite reluctant and scared. It was so neat that many of these parents drove from Northern Virginia, stuck in traffic for four hours on I-95, to bring their children. The smiles on their faces were definitely worth it.

Dad, Mom and Rocky and Toppers got to meet the Easter Bunny!
Dad, Mom and Rocky and Toppers got to meet the Easter Bunny!

Working backwards, on Friday the vet came out for what turned out to be Oh So’s final ultrasound. She said the injury site looked very good, probably 95% of what it should be, and that it might never look 100% perfect because of scar tissue. Now we’ll continue our trotting work and will add one minute of canter at a time in two weeks when we get to 20 minutes trot.

He’s his usual difficult self under saddle and we’re not supposed to do small circles quite yet, so it will probably be a few more months of my arms suffering!

Here’s a quick video of us trotting on Friday. You might not be able to tell, but my arms are being pulled very strongly!

The Fork
The Fork

Last weekend I headed down to the middle-of-nowhere Norwood, N.C., for The Fork Horse Trials. I covered the CIC***, CIC** and advanced divisions with one of our interns. The weather was perfect and we got to see most of the top horses in the U.S., of which several were heading to Rolex.

Sadly, there were two horse deaths over the weekend. A two-star horse collapsed after walking back to the stables after show jumping and Will Coleman’s three-star horse Conair collapsed after a fall on the advanced cross-country.

I’d seen him go through the water and I saw him at Carolina a few weeks ago and he was a pretty cool horse. I’m so sad for both riders and their connections. It’s a tough sport and it happens sometimes. I hope the necropsy results will give them some sense of closure. A lot has been written in the aftermath of the tragedies so I won’t add much else except to say that event horses are not forced to do this. If you’ve ever sat on one that loves it’s job, it’s an incredible feeling and accidents can and do happen. Thankfully the USEA requires necropsies so we can learn more about why these types of deaths are happening and learn from them.

You can check out our coverage of the weekend here.

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